What the Iwi CEOs are saying - Rob Hutchison

Rob Hutchison, chief exective of the Ngati Whatua Orakei Trust Board. Photo / NZH
Rob Hutchison, chief exective of the Ngati Whatua Orakei Trust Board. Photo / NZH

Rob Hutchison Ngati Whatua

Rob Hutchinson says time delays, costs and taxes associated with the development of land and the construction of housing are posing the greatest challenge to the Auckland-based iwi's business operations.

Ngati Whatua o Orakei is preparing for a big Auckland real estate development push, after its treaty settlement and commercial restructuring.

As chief executive of Ngati Whatua's commercial arm, Whai Rawa, Hutchison is tasked with growing its $300 million asset base using an inter-generational focus to provide long-term sustainable returns and benefits to its beneficiaries."

Across Auckland, the iwi is eyeing opportunities for hundreds of hectares to enhance returns to whanau, from the North Shore's Bayswater/Belmont area across to the ex-Tamaki Girls College site in Glen Innes.

"As a city, we need to become more sophisticated in how we plan for the future," Hutchison says.

He cites the main opportunity for his business, and others like it, lying in the creation of a more efficient planning and consent environment, which embraces community, adds to the quality of the building environment and is not steeped in bureaucracy.

He wants a strategic focus on partnering with central and local government, which allows for a contribution beyond straight investment returns.

Whai Rawa, was formed last year when a high-power board was appointed, chaired by leading Auckland financial expert Michael Stiassny.It has a time frame of 150 years - employing conservative strategy in terms of its financing and investments. Progress is being made.

Hutchison cites current government initiatives, including the announcement of the income-related WINZ subsidy top-up, that would be available to community housing groups, including iwi, as a positive move for progress in his sector as it creates an opportunity for affordable construction of modern housing for iwi and community groups.

Hutchison's top three priorities for the next 12 months are:

• Creating sustainable profit levels

• Construction of affordable and social housing stock

• Recruitment.

Overall, he is confident that the future for the iwi economy is looking bright.

"Iwi across the country are becoming more noticeable in the investment sector," he says.

"I think we can see a continuing strengthening of that iwi investment and they will continue to play a larger and larger role in the economy."

Mavis Mullins Poutama Trust

As CEO of Poutama Trust, Mavis Mullins is perfectly positioned to understand the impediments to growth among small Maori businesses.

Mullins believes that the key to such businesses remaining competitive is leadership and effective business organisation. "You're never going to really be able to make a difference if your strategies and structures aren't well aligned," she cautions.

But achieving quality leadership at firm level requires a more integrated framework at the political level. "There are pockets of it, but are we awash in the environment that encourages, and supports and promotes that kind of leadership?" Mullins questions.

She says supporting future growth requires greater collaboration and a more cohesive approach which will facilitate quality business transactions in the long run. Such a strategy might focus on establishing more collaborative clusters of Maori business to compete offshore, or carefully reviewing governance practices to ensure that strategies and structures are properly aligned.

She cites collaboration of this kind as being the greatest opportunity for the businesses they represent. The charitable organisation plans to help smaller iwi deal with challenges and opportunities from treaty settlements.

Traci Houpapa Federation of Maori Authorities FoMA

FoMA chairman Traci Houpapa says the one thing the federation believes is needed to improve New Zealand is to "change the national mindset to focus on our international competitiveness.

"Unless we do, New Zealand is lost. The change in thinking goes to increasing productivity and the generational forex." FoMA formed in 1984, represents over 150 Maori authorities with an estimated natural resource asset value of approximately $8 billion dollars. The Federation is the peak industry body of the Maori economic sector and its members have enterprises in seafood, forestry, dairy, horticulture, property, fisheries, aquaculture, energy and investments both in New Zealand and abroad.

Houpapa says her best achievement in the past 12 months was the consolidation (and co-operation) of industry supply chains and entities. In the next 12 months her top three priorities are:

• Primary industry sector capacity and capability development

• Securing industry and government partnerships

• Co-operation across members to achieve scale and strategic might.

She is the first woman to lead FoMA since its establishment in 1987.

- NZ Herald

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